Fish and Shellfish Consumption During Pregnancy
In this part of the world, fish and shellfish are foods that many people enjoy. However, during pregnancy, we warn women to limit their intake of certain fish due to contamination with mercury. Mercury is a substance that can affect the developing brain and nervous system of the baby when consumed in high quantities. While we do not recommend eliminating fish completely from the diet, we do recommend limiting the intake of certain kinds of fish. We also typically recommend avoiding raw fish due to an increased risk of parasites.
FDA guidelines now exist for children, pregnant women, and women attempting pregnancy. Below is a list of our recommendations, compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Counsil (NRDC).
HIGHEST levels of mercury—AVOID Eating
HIGH mercury levels—No more than three 6oz servings per month
Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below
Tuna (fresh bluefin, ahi)
LOWER MERCURY— no more than six 6-oz servings per month
Tuna (canned, chunk light)
Tuna (fresh Pacific albacore)
LOWEST MERCURY—Two 6-oz servings per week
Chart obtained from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); data obtained by the FDA and the EPA.
Tuna mercury levels can be different based on the type of tuna and where it was caught. The NRDC created the chart below as a guideline to how much tuna can be eaten by children, pregnant women or women wanting to conceive, based on their weight.
Source: Food and Drug Administration test results for mercury and fish, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination of safe levels of mercury.